What are the effects of ASMR on the brain

Originally published at: What are the effects of ASMR on the brain | Boing Boing

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I’ve never seen any ASMR that’s made me feel anything except slightly uncomfortable (and on some occasions, a stronger, “nails on chalkboard” feeling). Am I broken? Is that part of my brain dead?

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Lots of ASMR videos are odd to me but I get the appeal. I used to get real strong ASMR reactions when I was a kid. Happened naturally, sometimes even from just talking to friends. Was a weird but cozy and pleasant brain tingling sensation.

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You’re not alone. When I saw the headline, I thought, “Irritation. Borderline revulsion.” I hate ASMR; my brain just rebels at it. Speak the fuck up.

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I tried a video from this channel last year to see if I reacted to any of it. Closing my eyes to stop analyzing what was producing the sounds made a big difference, but only two things caused a definite reaction. I stopped the playback to see what was going on, but repeating those sections didn’t work. Maybe being startled by the noise was a factor.

Many of these seem to focus on helping people sleep, and whispering probably works. That’s why I can’t watch golf on TV. :sleepy: The announcers would knock me out. OTOH, this excellent ASMR spoof called Tingle Monsters woke me right up! :astonished:

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I’m sure the popularity of these videos has nothing to do with so many of them being recorded by attractive women and parasocial relationships.

OTOH, I never experienced frisson listening to music until I found an artist that “unlocked” that ability for me, and now I experience it all the time. So if ASMR fans really experience its flipside equivalent, I can understand the appeal.

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ASMR doesn’t do anything to me, but turn on a vacuum cleaner and I get a very pleasant sensation in my brain and about a minute later I’m asleep.

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“Misophonia” may be the other side of the coin to ASMR; it is the revulsion felt at the fingernails-on-chalkboard sound. I have experienced both; soft clicky voices can trigger ASMR, but squeaky noises can trigger misophonia. I had a hell of a time unwrapping saran-wrapped sandwiches at school as a kid, because the sound made me almost physically ill. So maybe some kind of hypersensitivity is a factor in both.

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One of my favorite commercials is for Sonic, where the kid in the back of the car hushes his parents before saying “ASMR!” and munching his ice cream cone. The parents laugh and tell him he’s no longer allowed on the internet. I get the occasional tinglies but only ever when it’s unplanned. The planned ones from videos and the like just make me think how weird modern life is.

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The article actually states that’s not what is really going on.

The ASMR video I watched today was about making chicken ramen, wet slimy ramen. I was wondering if this is how misophonia people feel all the time.

We need a new type of Godwins law to deal with people who claim an MRI scan proves whatever flaky argument they have.

As someone with both misophonia and synesthesia, ASMR is like someone flaying my brain with needles. That kind of noise makes me want to fight things and break stuff. I reject.

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I never looked into ASMR, though ist was just a fancy term for background white noise which I occasionally use, but man, I just checked one video and I fantasised about hitting the speaker within 15 seconds. Though as a moderately sane person I just turned it off.

The sounds, the whispering. I already have a slight tendency toward misophonia which git worse in recent decades. Won’t even go to the movies unless it’s a kid’s show during the afternoon.

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Article? I might be blind … but there’s only a video linked!?

You’re definitely not alone - and to me, this video helps me attempt to circle towards why I think that is. To me, the idea of this type of intimate closeness with a stranger is deeply disturbing and uncomfortable. Heck, it would be so with the vast majority of people I am intimately close with. While I understand some of the real-world examples given - a head massage at the hairdresser’s might feel good, for example - they also highlight this discomfort to me, as any such pleasure is always strongly tinged with a feeling of deep discomfort.

This also stands out in how ASMR toes the line towards sexuality - from my point of view, it seems that a portion of the pleasure of ASMR is tied up in not just believing that it is in no way sexual but that it doesn’t relate to sexuality at all, and as an extension of that that there is nothing potentially problematic or questionable about this extreme level of intimacy with a stranger. (Or just the conviction that if it was sexual, that would be fine too.) Which is just baffling and completely impossible to understand to me. Even if completely non-sexual in nature, this stuff goes so fully in on intimacy that it becomes uncomfortable by default - there is no way that this level of intimacy with some random stranger wouldn’t be. To me, this reflects a fundamental difference in one’s understanding of how one’s own existence in the world relates to and affects others. The idea that taking deep sensory pleasure from the actions of some random stranger can ever be unproblematic is utterly baffling to me.

The “doctor/dentist visit” thing kind of illustrates this - whether you like it or not there is a clear parallel to droves of porn plots blatantly visible in this, and while, again, these videos are non-sexual, the idea that going to the dentists and having them whisper intimately to you and touch you softly while examining you is so friggin creepy. If that happened to me, I would RUN.

Of course, I also find mouth noises revolting, including from people I’m close to. There is absolutely no comfort to be found there - quite the opposite. I don’t suffer from misophonia (it’s not that strong), but there are extremely few situations in which I would want to be exposed to the noisy bodily functions of others.

Also worth noting: I generally find great pleasure in tactility and the noises and touch sensations of my surroundings. Clicky buttons or pens, nice feeling pencils, a good keyboard, a just-scratchy-enough rug, nice clothes and fabrics, food with great mouthfeel and texture, etc. But this is entirely contingent on this being my own physical experience, and is lessened by the presence of others, which takes attention away from it. ASMR to me seems like a physically removed, bizarro-world version of this, that drastically amplifies the social aspects that remove pleasure for me, while removing the physical ones that I do find attractive entirely.

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That’s really interesting, and if true would explain why ASMR is a total mystery to me. However I do have misophonia real bad. Any kind of mouth sounds, like eating close to my ear (or worse into a microphone) actually trigger a kind of instant hulk rage in my brain that I’ve had to learn to control. I can now keep it to “strong annoyance” but don’t catch me off guard on a bad day with that. Sometimes even professional podcasters (looking at you, Radiolab) eat food on mic and it makes me insane. They should know better. I’m locked out of a lot of more amateur podcasts because people don’t control their breathing or other mouth sounds well while they speak into amplification.

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I was referencing the transcript.

Non ASMR people defining ASMR reads more like a dialogue between a patient and their counselor.

Or borderline sex shaming a non sexual activity.

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Yet, despite the psychologist stating many times that ASMR is non-sexual, he starts off by literally saying that Meridian Response (the MR part) is a euphemism for orgasm.